It is with unspeakable joy that I announce the 2015 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.
OAK RIDGE BOYS (Modern era): The quartet's induction is another case of the road to the Hall of Fame running through Knoxville. Wally Fowler formed a group, Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers, that appeared on the WNOX Midday Merry-Go-Round in the early 1940's (their backing musicians included a young Chester Atkins). A splinter group, the Harmony Quartet, frequently performed in the highly-secretive area around the Oak Ridge nuclear facility, prompting Folwer to rename his group the Oak Ridge Quartet. The Quartet focused solely on gospel music until the early 1970's, when the current line-up -- William Lee Golden (joined in 1965), Duane Allen (joined 1966), Richard Sterban (joined 1972), and Joe Bonsall (joined 1973) -- began performing country music primarily. The hits began soon afterward: "Y'all Come Back Saloon," "Sail Away," "Dream On," "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight," "Ozark Mountain Jubilee," and the massive crossover hit, "Elvira."
THE BROWNS (Veterans era): Jim Edward Brown began singing with his sister Maxine. Once Bonnie graduated from high school she joined her siblings. Despite Jim Ed's stint in the Army the trio quickly generated a list of hits, including their own composition, "Lookin' Back to See," and the Ira & Charlie Louvin-penned "I Take the Chance." In 1959 the Browns hit the top spot on the country and pop charts with "The Three Bells," a song that became their signature tune and earned them a Grammy nomination. The trio continued to perform until Bonnie and Maxine retired in the mid-60's to spend more time with their children. Jim Ed went on to a solo career with songs such as "Pop A Top," "Morning," and "Angel's Sunday," as well as duet hits with Helen Cornelius on such tunes as "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" and "Fools."
|L-R: Jim Ed, Bonnie, and Maxine Brown signing|
autographs after the Midnite Jamboree, 2009.
c. 2015 K.F. Raizor
GRADY MARTIN (Musician [rotating category]): Part of the famed "A Team" of Nashville studio musicians, Grady Martin (1929-2001) left his mark on country music with his guitar work on countless songs. He could tell a story with his playing (such as his work on Marty Robbins' "El Paso") or perform subtly (on Ray Price's "For the Good Times"). He unintentionally created a new sound when a short in his guitar amplifier caused his guitar solo on Robbins' "Don't Worry" to come out distorted. Martin played with everyone from Bing Crosby to Burl Ives to Roy Orbison to Joan Baez, leaving his indelible mark on guitar work along the way.
To the class of 2015, especially Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie, I send my heartfelt congratulations on this crowning achievement of your career in country music!